Display the commitment and strength normally reserved for military expenditures to support civilian needs. The government spends over $5 billion per year on military assistance in the region. US assistance should focus on a youth development strategy – including promoting entrepreneurship and private-public partnerships – to assist the 63 percent of the regional population that is under 29 with unemployment rates twice the world average.
The recently announced review of US military contributions in the region is a good start if it reallocates funding to directly support the people. Overcoming years of powerlessness and humiliation due to frustrated opportunity, corruption, and poor economic prospects will not be easy. But in a region known for culturally prioritizing children, US assistance is a significant signal of support.